Thursday, February 03, 2011

Lefty bitch SLAPP

Fringe Leftist Clive Hamilton, professor of public ethics at Charles Sturt University, advocates the "right" of a tiny segment of the population to halt Australian coal exports, so as to prevent the coal being burned and thereby contributing to global warming.
This week in Newcastle campaigners from the Rising Tide group face prosecution for a protest last September that shut down for a day the city's two coal export terminals operated by Port Waratah Coal Services. PWCS is a company owned by mining giants Rio Tinto and Xstrata.

Those who engage in civil disobedience expect to face the legal consequences. But PWCS has upped the ante by asking the police to prosecute seven activists under victims-of-crime laws, demanding they hand over hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In an Orwellian inversion of the meaning of words, corporate goliaths whose activities threaten the conditions of life on earth - whose daily business is already, according to the World Health Organisation, contributing to tens of thousands of deaths around the world each year - claim they are being victimised.

The coal industry's action is designed to have a chilling effect on protests against burning and exporting coal. PWCS's action has all the hallmarks of a SLAPP, a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.

The purpose of a SLAPP is to frighten citizens with the loss of their houses and get them bogged down for years in court proceedings. Legal costs can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars, chickenfeed for a big corporation but bankruptcy for ordinary citizens.

The intimidatory effect can be paralysing. One favourite tactic is to deliver writs on Christmas Eve so those who receive them have to sweat for a fortnight before they can get legal advice that may allay their fears.
Breaking the law and suffering the consequences is a hazard of civil disobedience. Those who engage in suc activities must be prepared to suffer not the preferred consequences but rather the full consequences.

Also, Hamilton is wrong in assigining emissions responsibility to coal producers: those who burn the exported coal are responsible for the carbon dioxide emitted. According to Hamilton's perverse logic alcohol producers are responsible for alcohol abuse and food manufacturers are making people fat.

Those wanting to "save" the planet should protest all they want but shouldn't have a big sad when they suffer the full weight of legal sanctions.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"contributing to tens of thousands of deaths around the world each year..."

I seriously doubt it. Can Hamilton point to even one person who's died because of the burning of coal (aside from industrial accidents, of course)?

And what about the hundreds of millions - or probably billions - who are kept alive each year and don't freeze to death thanks to the burning of coal?

5:36 AM  
Anonymous ar said...

Risk losing your house, or face certain death. Why does this present a conundrum to the coal-protesters?

11:23 AM  

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